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2079Re: Iamblichus 'eye of wisdom' alleged reference

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  • Leonard George
    May 14, 2008
      Thanks to all for your very generous and valuable responses!

      I'm intrigued by the question of how various Platonists understood
      the ontological status of this 'eye of the soul'. The esteemed Dr.
      Dillon, in his paper "Aisthesis Noete: A Doctrine of Spiritual Senses
      in Origen and in Plotinus" (in The Golden Chain: Studies in the
      Development of Platonism and Christianity) noted passages by those
      two that imply a belief in spiritual sense organs that are neither
      metaphors for Nous nor references to the faculties of the soul, but
      *literal* though non-material organs. With this in mind, I then look
      at a passage in De Mysteriis that has long caught my attention: "the
      advent of the gods... shows what is not body as body to the eyes of
      the soul by means of those of the body" (DM II.6.81-82). A few
      modern commentators have briefly glossed this passage with rather
      general statements about the soul's vehicle, without discussing
      precisely what role is played by the 'eyes of the body'. I infer
      that these bodily eyes, being contrasted to the 'eyes of the soul',
      are the physical sense organs. So then how exactly do these two sets
      of organs interact to give rise to the mysterious experience of
      perceiving 'what is not body as body'? As the physical eyes are
      involved, I assume that the perception of physical objects is part of
      the process - we're not just talking about visionary activity in the
      phantastikon here. If anyone feels like offering further thoughts or
      leads on this, I'd be glad.


      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "Leonard George" <lgeorge@...>
      > Hi ~
      > I've run across the following statement on a website concerning
      > medical knowledge:
      > 'Iamblichus repeats the statement of Plato that the study of the
      > science of Numbers tends to awaken that organ in the brain which
      > ancients described as the "eye of wisdom", the organ now known to
      > physiology as the pineal gland.'
      > I imagine the Plato reference is to Republic VII. Could anyone
      > me toward the specific passage in Iamblichus to which this might be
      > referring?
      > Thanks very much,
      > Leonard George
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